Cordillera Congressmen met with Regional Directors on regional autonomy last August 12, 2013 at the PLLO, North Wing Batasan, Quezon City. Present were: Cong. Ronald M. Cosalan (Benguet), Cong. Nicasio Aliping (Baguio City), Cong. Maximo B. Dalog (Mt. Province),Cong. Manuel S. Agyao (Kalinga),Cong. Maria Jocelyn V. Bernos (Abra), and Cong. Eleanor C. Bulut-Begtang (Apayao). Also in attendance were CAR Regional Directors: Julius Caesar V. Sicat of DOST, Milagros A. Rimando of NEDA, Sancho S. Buquing of NCIP, and Clarence L. Baguilat of DENR. The short meeting focused on the petition requesting the congressmen to refile House Bill 5595 seeking for the creation of an autonomous region in the Cordillera.
The petition, together with the RDC Roadmap for autonomy was presented by NEDA CAR director and elicited reactions from the congressmen.
Benguet Cong. Ronald Cosalan said he is pro-autonomy as manifested by his support to the previous two organic acts. He emphasized the need for a grassroots consultation regarding the provisions of the bill and added that the support of the President is crucial to start the ball rolling. He also suggested that a meeting is neede to tackle some issues related to the petition.
Apayao Cong. Begtang saw the need for effective IEC materials for her constituents to understand the benefits of an autonomous government. She added that answers to the issues on regional autonomy should also be included in the information kit.
Mountain Province Cong. Maximo Dalog said that every move should be studied well so as not to lose the chance. “We lost the two attempts and we cannot afford to lose it this time,” Dalog said.
During the meeting, the congressmen agreed to hold a forum to discuss and reach a unanimous stand on the bill as suggested by Cong. Aliping. Cong. Bernos and Cong. Agyao supported the conduct of the forum to discuss the next move
Attending regional directors likewise assured their support to the planned activity. A discussion of each agency’s proposed budget for 2014 shall be included during the upcoming forum.
Meantime, Ifugao Cong. Theodoro Baguilat who was not able to attend the meeting has committed to discuss with his fellow Representatives the urgency of filing the Autonomy Bill.